2. When you are first learning something, SLOW IT DOWN! -- So many players try to learn something new and try to play it as fast as possible and play it sloppy as hell. I GUARANTEE you that if you slow it down you will actually pick it up 10x quicker because you are teaching your brain and fingers to do it right the right way over and over instead of messing it up over and over. In order to really learn something you MUST slow it down to give your brain time to comprehend and fully understand what you are doing!
3. Learn to strum FIRST! (Beginners) -- I've noticed over the years that most teachers show how to fret chords first and when they try to learn a song, they have NO RHYTHM at all. If you learn how to strum with your right hand FIRST and just mute the strings with your left hand you can do. It's very difficult to explain this without showing someone in person, but I'm going to give it a shot! Also, here is the strumming pattern I came up that I use all the time when I teach that explains it visually:
(+) = NO HIT
D = DOWN STROKE
U = UP STROKE
A. Quarter note rhythm: Count "1 (+) 2 (+) 3 (+) 4 (+)" for this rhythm. All you are really doing is "1 +" 4 times if you really think about it. Do a down stroke (1) and on the second down stroke, which is the &, do NOT hit the strings, but still count the "+" OUTLOUD. So it's basically 2 down strokes and you count "1 +" and you only hit the first down stroke. Think of it like this: 2 down strokes, but you're thinking HIT on the 1st down stroke, then NO HIT on the 2nd down stroke. So basically you're only hitting the strings on the NUMBERS 1, 2, 3, 4.IMPORTANT: keep your right handing moving at ALL times even when you're not hitting the strings!
B. Eighth note rhythm: Also Count "1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +" for this rhythm. Do a down stroke (1) and on the second down stroke (which is the +), you HIT the strings this time. So it's basically 2 down strokes and you count "1 +" and you hit the strings on both down strokes.
C. Sixteenth note rhythm: Count this "1e+a, 2e+a, 3e+a, 4e+a" for this rhythm. The ONLY difference between this rhythm and eighth note is that you will be hitting the UP STROKES too! If you notice you're still counting the "1 +", but now after the 1 you have to come back up right? Well, that's the "e". So here it is broken down:
4. ALWAYS COUNT OUT LOUD: Our job as musicians is to create pleasing sound to the ear from within ourselves and the more we can get used to externalizing by counting out loud the quicker it teaches our brains what we are doing. At first it is a little more difficult, but to really FULLY understand and be able to have COMMAND of any rhythm or song it's HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to count out loud, especially if you want to play and instrument and sing at the same time.
Make sure you keep your RIGHT hand moving the entire time when strumming!
Once you get those rhythms down and pretty comfortable learn a few chord shapes (Em, D, C are the easiest) and try to do 4 beats for each chord with each rhythm separately. The KEY to strumming is keeping your RIGHT HAND moving at ALL times, even if you totally screw up the chord! Your left hand will eventually follow your right hand, but most importantly you will have a much better sense and feel for the rhythm!
*TRY THIS: Put the song "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room" on and mute the strings and try to play along with the song using all 3 rhythms. It's a slower song so it's a good one to start out with and the cool thing about this exercise is that you can do it to any song you want and your rhythm will get REALLY good!
Good luck and if you have any questions at all feel free to e-mail me at Archs21@aol.com
(Interested in taking private lessons with me just click here!)